Straddling the Amazon and La Plata river basins, the Chiquitano dry forest covers about 89 000 square miles (230 509 km2).
While the most environmental research in the region has focused on the effects of forest fires, SEI researchers and partners are studying how land use changes are altering the water supply.
Of particular interest are atajados, the surface storage ponds used for cattle watering that divert water from the natural water table.
Through remote sensing and on-the-ground surveys, researchers are working to quantify how much water is diverted through atajados and groundwater wells. These types of water extraction and storage can affect the natural hydrology of streams and downstream tributaries, as well as downstream users and ecosystems.
Local governments could benefit from more knowledge about the current and potential impacts of surface water diversions, particularly the role of atajados, and increasing groundwater extraction to better inform policy to regulate groundwater use.